Government confirms £11m cut in Devon County Council budget
By Nick Lester, Parliamentary Correspondent
A Government funding package that will see Devon lose more than £11 million has been given the go-ahead.
The finalised cash settlement will mean the county council having £11.3 million less to spend on services in the coming year according to updated Whitehall figures – a fall of 2.1 per cent. The average cut nationally was 1.7 per cent.
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So-called "spending power" bundles together all funding including council tax raised locally, NHS funding for social care, and cash for building new homes.
Other losers include East Devon which will see the amount it has to spend cut by £156,000 (1.2 per cent) and Teignbridge £154,000 (one per cent).
But Exeter will actually gain an extra £398,000 – a rise of 2.6 per cent, as will Mid-Devon by £129,000 – a 1.3 per cent increase.
The local government finance report, confirming the financial settlements, was approved in the Commons by 274 votes to 196, a Government majority of 78.
It was supported by Tory MPs Anne Marie Morris for Newton Abbot, Neil Parish for Tiverton and Honiton, Mel Stride for Central Devon, and Hugo Swire for East Devon. Labour MP for Exeter Ben Bradshaw voted against.
Speaking in the Commons, Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said by making small savings across departments, local authorities could save significant amounts of money.
He said: "That is what we should be doing. We should not be scoffing at small savings. They add up to big amounts of money."
There would be an extra £9.2 million for councils in financial difficulty, while those authorities which tried to create new jobs or build homes would gain the financial benefit through keeping a share of their business rates or the new homes bonus.
The Minister added: "This is about local authorities getting money for what they do. We are moving to a new way of working.
"The settlement should silence deficit deniers. It is fair to north and south, fair to urban and rural, fair to poor and rich authorities. It is a settlement that rewards innovation, imagination, and delivery for residents."
Shadow Communities Secretary Hilary Benn argued local councils were now facing the "largest cuts in government funding in the political lifetime of every single one of us sitting in this House."
He pointed to the Local Government Association which said that funding for local government was projected to fall by 3.9 per cent in 2013-14 and a further 8.5 per cent in 2014-15, meaning the grant to local government would fall by 33 per cent in real terms over the current spending review period.